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Benfica out of UEFA Champions League qualifying round

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Former European Cup winners Benfica crashed out of the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round on Tuesday after a shock 2-1 defeat at PAOK Salonika.

Serbia winger Andrija Zivkovic scored against his former club Benfica a week after leaving them.

Dynamo Kiev also advanced to the play-off round with a 2-0 home win over Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, as did Belgians Gent after they beat visitors Rapid Vienna 2-1.

PAOK’S reward is a two-legged play-off against Russians Krasnodar, while Dynamo Kiev face Gent for berths in the money-spinning group stage featuring 32 teams.

Benfica, who won Europe’s premier club competition in 1961 and 1962, saw last season’s woes spill over into this term.

This was as Zivkovic, who endured four difficult seasons in Portugal, rubbed salt into their wounds.

Having seen the domestic league and Cup double go to Porto last term, Benfica missed a string of chances against PAOK in a one-sided first half as they enjoyed 72 percent of possession.

They were punished after the break as Dimitrios Giannoulis poked in the opener from close range in the 63rd minute.

That was after a one-two with Chuba Akpom, and substitute Zivkovic made it 2-0 in the 75th with a sweet shot inside the near post.

Rafa Silva pulled one back with a stoppage-time header but it came too late to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

This will pile pressure on manager Jorge Jesus, who returned to Benfica during the close season for a second spell in charge.

Having been in charge from 2009 to 2015, Jesus went on to win the elusive double of the Brazilian league title and Copa Libertadores with Flamengo in 2019.

But he now faces a mammoth task to get Benfica back to winning ways.

Dynamo Kiev soaked up pressure on home soil against Alkmaar in the first half.

Then, Luxembourg forward Gerson Rodrigues fired them ahead just after the break with a neat finish into the roof of the net, thanks to good work by Vitaliy Buyalskiy.

Mykola Shaparenko sealed their passage with a late header after visiting goalkeeper Marco Bizot misjudged Tomasz Kedziora’s cross from the right.

It left the midfielder with the simple task of nodding the ball into an empty net.

Niklas Dorsch headed Gent into a 36th minute lead against Rapid Vienna from a pinpoint Sven Kums assist.

Roman Yaremchuk added the second with a penalty kick on the hour, before Yusuf Demir netted a stoppage-time consolation for the visitors.

In Wednesday’s stand-out fixtures, 1991 European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade visit Cypriots Omonia Nicosia while Dinamo Zagreb are at Hungarian champions Ferencvaros.

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NIGERIA

Ijaw nation vows to resist national water resources bill

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Following its earlier condemnation by different groups and individuals, the Ijaw Nations Development Group (INDG) has condemned the reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill in the National Assembly, vowing to resist it vehemently.

The INDG described the bill as not only provocative but also a complete distortion of Nigeria’s federalism, insisting that reintroduction of the bill was the height of insensitivity to the plight of ordinary Nigerians.

Ijaw stakeholders, who stated this yesterday during a virtual meeting attended by over 100 participants, lamented that the Federal Government sent the bill to the National Assembly without engaging the states and peoples that are the direct stakeholders but only acknowledged them as footnotes.

The Keynote Speaker at the meeting, Anthony George-Ikoli (SAN), described the bill as a deleterious agenda.

“Taking a critical look at the National Water Resources Bill 2020, currently in the legislature and our national consciousness, I am compelled to align myself with more speakers, who in recent times, have come to the conclusion that such a bill can only be the product of an undisclosed, deleterious agenda,” he said.

He explained that true federalism usually serves to recognize the rights of the constituent units to ownership and protection of the same, noting that by its vesting sections, the bill represented an egregious distortion of federalism.

“The Federal Government has not only deprived the states of the minerals and mineral oil in the land within their territories, but it is also now plotting to take the only resource left for the states to administer for the benefit of their people through the National Water Resources Bill,” he added.

He said the time was past when the Ijaw nation would sit aloof and watch, but it was time to set an agenda for its legislators at all levels.

Another speaker and Niger Delta activist, Ann Kio-Briggs, said it was disheartening that the Federal Government was tampering with the rights of Ijaw people and the Niger Delta region.

“Water represents life and belongs to my people, we live on and by the water. For the first time, the Ijaw have to wake up because they have taken our land, oil, and air through pollution and now, they want to take our water. It is our responsibility to protect our rights,” she stated.

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NIGERIA

Finally, APC concedes defeat, admits Edo poll free, fair

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The governing All Progressives Congress on Monday conceded defeat 24 hours after Governor Godwin Obaseki, of the Peoples Democratic Party, was declared the winner of the Edo Governorship Election.

Chairman of the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement titled, “Edo State Governorship Election: Victory for Democracy,” which he signed, congratulated Obaseki over his victory.

Buni said,  “Edo State Governorship election is over, the winner has been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the person of the Mr. Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the People Democratic Party.

“We hereby congratulate the winner of the election, the people of Edo State and all Nigerians. The peaceful conduct of the election and its outcome represent a victory for Nigeria’s democracy

“As a party, we join our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to affirm our ‘commitment to free and fair elections’ in order to strengthen ‘the foundation for our political and moral authority.

“ We commend INEC, our security agencies, and all political parties that contested the election for the successful conduct of the election. As a governing party, we will take every step necessary to support the Federal Government to consolidate all the gains achieved. “

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NIGERIA

Government has no business running refineries — Osinbajo

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The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the problems associated with Nigeria’s refineries will persist if the Federal Government continues to own and run them.

He noted that experience has shown that refineries were better managed by the private sector hence the need for the government to restrict itself to providing the regulatory framework for such businesses to thrive.

Osinbajo said this at a virtual meeting organized for the All Progressives Congress bloggers and social media influencers at the APC National Secretariat, in Abuja, Monday.

According to him, it was time for the nation to do more to develop its gas and renewable energy resources which are cheaper and cleaner.

He said, “If the refinery is left in the hands of the government, it will continue to experience the same problem it is experiencing now. I do not think that it is the business of the government to run the refinery. It should be the business of the private sector, which is why we are trying to focus on assisting the private sector to develop modular refineries.”

Speaking further Osinbajo said, “There is a 100,000-barrel capacity refinery about to come on stream and we hope it will by the next year. It is completely private and closely located near the Port Harcourt refinery so that it can share the facilities of the Port Harcourt refinery. We are hopeful it will come on stream in the first quarter of next year.

“There are also six modular refineries that are almost ready. There is a Niger Delta Petroleum refinery in Delta state, there is another one in Imo, there is also another modular refinery in Edo State.

“We engaged the oil-producing communities to find a new vision for the Niger Delta and we tried to encourage modular refinery that will give the people in the oil-producing states a stake so that the modular refinery is not just private but the people there have some stake and equity.

“The whole idea is to support as many private refineries as possible. We are also waiting for the Dangote Refinery with 250,000 barrels capacity which is bigger than all of the government refineries put together.

“In the next two or three months, we will see the private sector playing a bigger role and things will quickly improve. We hope that this particular effort will complete the refurbishment of the refineries which will be completed soon but I am more hopeful of the private effort been the key to the future.”

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